Chapter 08

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Kuro and Maxine stepped into the forest of fog and Seth followed closely behind. The barrier that sealed the forest was well woven as Seth could not even see it himself. But as he was fully inside, he could feel the thick pressure of essence. His innate ability to sense the sources of essential pressure waves revealed more than a hundred beings in the forest. All of which were far from them but some had taken notice and were moving slowly to his position. But this fog was something else. 
"Guys," he whispered to Kuro and Maxine but they were nowhere to be seen. The fog's thickness was so dense Seth could not see the ground. He resumed focussing on sounds hoping to hear either one of their voices or to at least hear a ghoul nearby. He could not sense the others either.
He took small steps, each one he would turn his body in a direction ensuring that every angle was covered. 
He began to feel fatigue. Is this the pressure? What's happening? He thought to himself, much like how Maxine's essence stiffened his body, this essence all around Seth drained him and he fought to stay up and waved his hands around to try grab onto a tree but passed out on the floor, every bit of essence in his body moving slowly and sending him into a sleep effect.

Kuro and Maxine stopped walking and he scanned the area. 
"Where did Seth go?" Kuro asked and Maxine was too occupied with kissing his neck.
"We should go see a movie!" she said with her face lighting up.
"Really? Now? We need to find him."
Kuro closed his eyes and tried to sense Seth's essence. There was a lot of distance between them and Kuro wondered how he had not noticed sooner. 
But something more pressing was on his mind. There was another presence here that was not a ghoul.

Seth woke up after a while and looked around. There was too much fog and it didn't allow him to see very far. He felt something soft underneath his hands and glanced down to find himself planted on top of a woman. He jumped and apologised but then took another look and the body had no head. Below her were more bodies all in a pile. Some were missing body parts and others were ripped open. The horror that Seth saw before him made his back have cold sweats. He slowly backed away until he bumped into a tree, suddenly frightened, summoned his scythe and cut the tree down. After he realised that it was a tree, he calmed down with a loud sigh. Loud enough that he heard rustling through the bushes. Seth stood there and waited.

If he still had a heart it would have stopped beating. Suddenly a tree branch reached out and knocked Seth to the ground. The branch slowly retracted and Seth quickly got up, readying his scythe. This time out of the bushes came a dark figure that moved with great speed. Before he could move, the dark figure swung a scythe towards Seth's face. Luckily enough Seth flashed away and landed in the trees but just when he thought he was safe, the dark figure appeared next to him, still swinging their scythe. The top of the tree was cut and fell to the ground along with Seth who only managed to get a cut across his chest. He started to run away gaining as much speed as he could. He leapt up to the trees and flashed from one tree to the other, without looking back. In the peripheral of his vision, he could see the dark figure catching up to his speed and closing in on him. The figure flashed and Seth interpreted where they would appear next. The figure appeared before Seth and swung their scythe.

Just as he suspected.

He saw a chance to surprise the figure and pivoted, spearing towards the figure and swung his scythe as he got close.

What happened next was not in his prediction.

A girl with blonde hair leapt out of the trees and tackled Seth and flashed out of sight with him.

Seth fell to the ground along with the girl who held him.

This person had worse landing skills than he did.

Seth broke out of the embrace and readied his scythe, his adrenaline still intact. The girl stood a good five foot and three inches and on her back was a massive axe which couldn't have been shorter than six feet. The blade matching the same design as a scythe, black metal with a silver sharpened edge. It was a wonder to Seth how a girl her size could carry such a large weapon. The axe itself was up to her neck from the ground and the handle was taller than Seth. The girl put a finger to her lips and gestured for Seth to stay quiet. She flashed out of sight and in that instant, the ghoul popped out of the trees and flew towards Seth. Seth readied himself as he could not come up with a plan but before the ghoul reached him, the girl reappeared and swung her massive axe and cut it in two by the waist. Seth looked at the chopped up ghoul, examining how it looked like a starved human with rotten flesh all over. The ghoul began decaying into essence, letting out a loud screech and she sucked the essence, swallowing it all. Her bodied shimmered with light and she grinned as the power coursed through her. She landed and Seth could have sworn that the axe just grew after absorbing the essence.

The girl looked at Seth, her axe still in her hand.

"It's okay, I won't hurt you." She said.

"You lay down your fucking massive axe and I might just be okay!" Seth retorted. 

"Dude, relax. I'm not here to fight you." The girl said as she took off her hood. Her blonde hair was long as it hung down to her waist. She was young. Perhaps younger than Seth.

"My name is Kat," She extended her hand out and Seth saw a marking on her wrist. He shook her and hand and introduced himself as well," So Seth, are you sure you want to be here? You seem pretty weak, no offence."

None taken. Seth was weak. Even he knew that.

"Are you in a team?" Kat asked.

"Well, I hang around a group called The Order. I'm sorta new."

"Ah... Our good old enemies, The Order." Kat proceeded to take a seat on a rock. Seth pondered at her response.

"So I take it you're Slayer?" He asked.

"Yeah, you don't seem too afraid."

"Should I be? You just saved my life," Seth said and thanked her with another handshake, "What was it that you just killed?"

"A lesser ghoul. The Hill is a feeding ground for essence. A place where all reapers come to get stronger. I'm just here to pass the time before dawn."

"What happens at dawn?"

"The ghouls go into hiding, which makes them harder to hunt."

"I expected the ghouls to look... less human."
"Guessing the zombified look of them isn't enough?" she giggled.

Kat looked into the night sky. The fog around them had cleared because of the movements but soon it would start to thicken again. She closed her eyes and listened. Seth looked at her and lost himself in the smoothness of her skin. Hard to believe such a dead person could own such. Kat stood up quickly and held out her hand towards Seth, "Come, follow me."

The two of them flashed out of sight.

They appeared before a lake in far into the woods, far from the hill. Across the lake were a group of living teens. About six of them. But Seth could hear another voice..

"Do you hear an extra voice that's laughing?" Kat asked. Seth nodded, still searching for the extra person.

"That voice you're hearing is a ghoul," Kat said, "And this one an experience ghoul. There exist many kinds of ghouls. The lesser one we fought was a rookie, probably using its small size to evade the other ghouls. But there exist ghouls who would have absorbed enough essence to somewhat stabilise their core. With this, they are able to repair their flesh and look more alive. Until..."
Seth knew the ending to that.

Kat had Seth's full attention and caught him staring deeply at her. She just smiled at him and giggled. Seth felt a spark. He did not notice that he was slowly leaning in. Suddenly Kat raised a hand to his face, "Look! Over there!"

Moment ruined.

Seth glanced in the direction she pointed to and saw a girl walking to the lake with a boy. The two began making out but behind the girl appeared four flesh tendrils. The girl's mouth grew larger and she had rows of teeth, which closed over the boy's head and began chewing through the skull. The boy screamed through the pain while the other teenagers soon saw what was happening and scattered into the woods. Sounds of howls and roars filled the forest.
"Feeding time," Kat whispered. Kat leapt from her position and over the lake and attacked the ghoul.

As Seth started to stand up he noticed something behind him. He turned and found a man standing with eyes wide open and a blank expression.

"H-hi," Seth said in a shaky voice. Sounds of cracking bones and tearing flesh came from the man as tendrils ripped out of his back and his mouth grew larger with hundreds of new sharp teeth. Seth screamed and ran away. The ghoul roared and went after him. Seth looked across the lake at Kat who was still fighting against the ghoul. She moved around gracefully and laughed when she dodged or got hit. Not once did she use her scythe.
There was no way Seth would be able to jump the lake - he was too caught up in trying to live right now. He swore and cursed Maxine and Kuro for bringing him here. Out of the bushes far in front of Seth, four more ghouls rushed out and turned towards Seth. Among them was a weird looking ghoul that looked nothing human. This one walked with the assistance of several more limbs and lacked a face. Just had a mouth, 5 legs, 3 disjointed arms and a larger body than the others. Seth knew at this moment, his four years of the afterlife and his eighteen years of his human life had come to an end.

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